The distinction I find so powerful and transforming, liberating and healing is the realization that it is the mothering, not our mother, and the fathering, not our father, that shapes our sense of self. In other words, this distinction frees our love for the individual that is our parent from the problems of their parenting.
Many of us so love our parent with fierce loyalty, that we cannot address the woundings of our childhood. We protect our parent and deny ourselves the truth of the suffering and wounding of our childhoods. We conflate, combine into one, the person who is our parent with the archetype of the role and the performance of that role.
Soul maturity supports development, healing, liberation and empowerment, through the distinguishing between the person, the role, and the performance. As you mature in your soul life, you move to deeper truths and truth does set you free.
- There is the mother who is an individual karmically related to other individuals some of whom are her children who she mothers and some of whom were her parents and grandparents who mothered her.
- There is the role of mother that is archtypal and provides the mothering or maternal field of empathic attunement in which the child develops a strong sense of being and well-being.
- Finally, there is the performance of mothering, the karmic gesture which activates empathic failures leaving the child with a wounded sense of being and well-being, shaping the struggles of life, yet offering the opportunities for the free individual awakening of self throughout adulthood.
Our individual task is to freely and courageously find ourselves, know ourselves and become ourselves in spite of our karmic entanglements with our primary and secondary caregivers. In order to do this, we need to be deeply curious about
- the individual who is our mother
- the role a mother ideally plays in shaping her child’s individuality
- and the actual mothering we received in utero and in our early years.
In doing this we become compassionately curious about our mother’s childhood, her sense of being, her well-being, and the circumstances of her life at the time of our birth and early childhood, not to excuse the inadequate, even harmful mothering but to understand the individual and the family dynamics that shaped her and us. To find our own sense of being we need to evolve beyond these dynamics and find a new mature and free relationship to the hereditary stream of mothers and mothering (and fathers and fathering).
In other words, we can love our mother and have real difficulties with the mothering we received. We can live into and move beyond the psychosiritual paradox of this primary relationship.
Then we can develop the inner maturity to mother ourselves, self-relate, and awaken a new sound sense of being. The past no longer shapes our future. There is something spiritually profound, even necessary, in this development.
What does this mean to you? How does the freedom to love your mother and recognize that the mothering she provided was inadequate to meet your needs and left you with a core feeling you are somehow bad and undeserving? It is an innate response to assume and internalize a sense of anger, shame and guilt around the empathic failures of the parenting we received. Anger, shame and guilt inhibit our soul’s growth toward freedom and love. The distinction between our mothers and the mothering failures (fathers and fathering failures) can support us in releasing the negative feelings that hold us back from self-worth, courage, creativity and expression.
So much of contemporary therapy or soul healing fails to make this distinction. I have spent years trying to come to terms, come to peace, with my childhood and helping others do the same. I now know that I can feel love toward my mother, compassion for her life, and not deny that I received lousy, damaging mothering from her. It is up to me, my liberated and liberating soul, to redeem my sense of self and I can’t do that if I think I must protect my relationship with my mother and override my relationship with myself.
If you have read this far, you must be seeking self-understanding. This is the inner journey. To support you in this, I have developed the Inner Life programs to guide biographical reviews – the journey of self-discovery through our memories.
This summer I am offering Lifting the Veils Part One Birth to Age Seven. Over eight sessions participants will review their memories of key experiences during these critical years. Each session will focus on an archetypal theme of early childhood and we will consider how in that theme we were held, handled, offered new experiences and how our responses and reactions were integrated into a sense of self. Memories will be shared. We will explore the ideals and the dramas living in each theme in each of our lives with respect, reverence and caring.
Lifting the Veils will guide you to a new understanding of yourself, your childhood, and childhood in general. It is a transformative program for seekers of a personal sense of being and those caring for young children — mothers, grandmothers, teachers and those who are thinking about having children. To learn more about this powerful and compassionate online program visit here.